Since the late '60s German doctors have been prescribing alpha-lipoic acid in pharmacologic doses (usually at
least 10 times greater than the dose that is needed to prevent deficiency) to diabetic patients. And alpha-lipoic
acid has been used to treat diabetic neuropathy in Germany for at least ten years. Why? Because more than
one-third of diabetics suffer the numbness and pain of the nerve damage called diabetic peripheral
neuropathy, especially in their feet. Of course, maintaining your blood glucose at near normal levels is the
best way to decrease the risk of diabetic neuropathy. What if you already have nerve damage though? Those
who took 1,200 mg/day orally of alpha-lipoic acid for two years showed improvement in their nerve conduction
scores and improvement in their symptom scores. The symptoms started to improve after just a few months.
Has your doctor done anything to improve your symptoms or nerve conduction scores? I'm not talking about
pain medication; I'm talking about actual improvement in the health of the peripheral nerves.
NOTE: Because many studies show that insulin resistance instead of a lack of insulin can cause elevated
blood glucose levels. Evidence points to alpha-lipoic acid improving insulin sensitivity. That's good. But the
studies have not been backed by enough human trials for recommendation. Please note, however, that
alpha-lipoic acid therapy MAY change your insulin requirements and you may have to adjust your doses to
avoid hypoglycemia. Please consult your doctor for any necessary dosage adjustments. Please remember
that maintaining your blood glucose at near normal levels is the best way to prevent any nerve damage.
CAN IT HELP VASCULAR DAMAGE?
What about the vascular damage so common with type II diabeties? One study showed that capillary
perfusion improved in the fingers of some diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy. These patients were
taking 1,200 mg/day of alpha-lipoic acid. Another study of patients taking 600 mg/day of alpha-lipoic acid over
18 months showed vascular improvement compared to controls.
HOW MUCH ALA IS THERAPUTIC?
The doses of alpha-lipoic acid suggested to be theraputic by research are hundreds of times higher than can
be obtained by food sources. Alpha-lipoic acid is also rapidly metabolized by your body and it is, therefore,
suggested that the recommended dose of 1,200 mg/day be broken down into as many divided doses as
possible during the day. For instance, I take 600 mg two times a day. Break it down to whatever suits your
existing medicine schedule. A once-a-day dose is not suggested however unless you use a time-released
form of ALA.
IS IT SAFE?
Alpha-lipoic acid is safe. Alpha-lipoic acid is safe and has no well-known drug interactions. There has never
been any reports of toxicity from overdose of alpha-lipoic acid, however, there haven't been studies done with
pregnant and lactating women so their use of alpha-lipoic acid supplements is not recommended. According
to Healthnotes there is "reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit"
Although I have read many articles on alpha-lipoic acid, the most comprehensive and best documented
website I have found is Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center.
Please consult their webpage for more information.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Please note that all of the studies talk in terms of months. Be patient. It was four months before I felt any
improvement in my peripheral neuropathy. My nerve damage was three years old. The older the area of my
nerve damage, the slower my improvement. See my web page My Story for more details of my nerve
Information that is provided in this site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians.